Tuesday, 06 December 2016 10:41

Swift Current Genealogical Society continues to assist family historians at new location

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Swift Current Genealogical Society members Dawn Rogowski (at front) and Beverly Hagen look at the research material in the storage area at their new downtown location on the top floor of the Office Outfitters building at  164 1st Ave. N.W. Swift Current Genealogical Society members Dawn Rogowski (at front) and Beverly Hagen look at the research material in the storage area at their new downtown location on the top floor of the Office Outfitters building at 164 1st Ave. N.W.

If you want to learn more about your family history, but do not know where to start, the Swift Current Genealogical Society might be a good place to begin that search.


The members of the Swift Current Genealogical Society are now settled in their new location in the downtown area.
The Swift Current branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society has been active since 1981. For many years the office was located in the basement of the former Junction Square bingo hall, but the building had a change of ownership.
The move to the new location on the top floor of the Office Outfitters building at 164 1st Ave. N.W. took place in February. Dawn Rogowski, the current president of the Swift Current Genealogical Society, feels the new location is well suited to their needs.
“It’s a bigger than what we had in the basement,” she said. “The stairs are a little bit awkward for people when they’re coming, but one step at a time you can still get there and guess what, that’s the way genealogy is — one step at a time.”
There is an open area for their program meetings, office space, and a storage area with shelves for a variety of research material to help people find that missing family link or discover something new about a family’s past.
According to Beverly Hagen, the program co-ordinator for the Swift Current Genealogical Society, their goal is to collect a variety of source material to assist people in their search for family information.
“Someone may move to Swift Current, become interested in genealogy, maybe they’re interested in towns that are 50, 60 or 100 miles from Swift Current, and so it’s nice to be able to come to a book and see if they can find a relative in a history book,” she said. “It may give them a jumping off point, give them information that they maybe didn’t have before.”
There are history books, including the histories of various towns and villages, tapes of family histories that have been recorded by people, passenger and immigration index, history and genealogy magazines, old phone books, school records, district cemetery book records and old records of deceased people from a local funeral home.
Members of the Swift Current Genealogical Society have been painstakingly collecting local newspaper obituaries since 1982.
“So anybody that dies and it’s published in the paper, are all in our files,” Rogowski said. “You can read a lot of information from the obituary, depending on who put the obituary in, because it’s usually a family member that does the obituary.”
Hagen noted there has been a growing interest in genealogy over the years and the internet has made it easier for people to start their search.
“Different libraries and archives started putting their databases online,” she said. “So it makes sitting at home, researching, a hundred times easier.”
While it might be easier to get started, people often find they get stuck and joining a local genealogical society might be a good way to learn from others with more experience.
“With any group it’s the ideas that you can bounce off each other,” she said. “You’re always learning from whoever, and just because you might be researching in the United States doesn’t mean that my path of researching can’t be applied to England or Germany or Canada. It’s still basically the same pathway, just different avenues that you might go down different ways to gain information.”
Hagen was a founding member of the Brooks Genealogical Society and she joined the Swift Current Genealogical Society in 1987 when she and her husband moved to the Admiral area.  Her duties as program co-ordinator involves finding guest speakers for the monthly program meeting.
“Sometimes, I use people within our group and we’ll talk about a particular person or a particular place of searching,” she said. “Social media has become such an integral part of our lives and so in genealogy too. People are becoming more savvy as some of the older techniques that we used to use are no longer applicable or can be used in conjunction with social media. So it’s just trying to keep ourselves informed all of the time in any avenue of research in genealogy.”
Rogowski has been a member of the Swift Current Genealogical Society for almost six years and it has helped her own research.
“I retired from teaching and then I said I wanted to find my family tree,” she mentioned. “You always collect stuff, but at the same time you really don’t go at it in earnest until you say I got a little bit more free time. So it was in the first part of 2011 that I joined here, because I thought I need some help, and that’s what I came for.”
Membership of the Swift Current Genealogical Society has fluctuated over the years, but for the past few years it has been stable at around 20 people. They will always welcome new members.
The annual membership fee is $170, which includes a $50 fee to the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society. The membership fee helps to pay for the cost of renting the office space and to cover the cost of subscribing to various online genealogical services. Members have access to these online sources and they can also use the microfiche readers in the office.
The Swift Current Genealogical Society meets once a month on the fourth Monday of the month, starting at 7 p.m., but there are no meetings from June to August.
“Everybody is welcome to come and it doesn’t matter about your level of knowledge in genealogy,” Hagen said. “You don’t have to come with a to do list or anything like that. Everybody is just welcome. People really come from all kinds of different backgrounds and it’s very interesting to hear how their family came here and why, and sometimes they know that and sometimes they don’t.”
For more information about the Swift Current Genealogical Society, contact Rogowski at 306-773-5507 or Hagen at 306-297-3122.

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Matthew Liebenberg

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